Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More Misc.

This is such a busy time of year for so many reasons. There are games to go to for our kids and other kids, fall carnivals and parties, time changes, work, multiple committee meetings, luncheons, deadlines, tryouts, practices and more. It's all of that that makes me enjoy the Highland Family Retreat even more. Combine a beatiful setting, great people, cool weather, a hammock and no schedule or agenda and you have at least a little bit of down time to breathe. Just a week and a half to go...


I had to go to DFW yesterday. While many elements of the trip were quite frustrating indeed, it was great to sit down with Nino for lunch.


Go Cardinals! As a half-Missourian I have always had a soft spot for both the Royals and the Cardinals. It's a little tougher the be proud of the Royals but I am still a big George Brett fan.


We have had some interesting luck when it comes to Connor's Haloween costumes in the past. One year he was a train engineer. Within days there was a small train derailment in our area. One year he was a surfer with a bandaged leg and a bite out of his surf board. The same day as our fall carnival at church that girl surfing in Hawaii got her arm bitten off by a shark. I won't reveal yet what he will be this year, but last night one of the umpires in the Cardinals/Tigers game was hit by a foul ball. Honestly, I think he is outgrowing the whole dressing up thing, but next year I may try to get him to dress like a politician or two that I can think of. I would much prefer term limits, but sometimes you have to get proactive.


Now for the interactive portion of today's post:

If you were to change careers, what would you do? Now let me qualify this, I am looking for real scenarios. Tell me something to which you might actually be able to switch. For instance, don't tell me you're going from high school shop teacher to opera-singing pro wrestler. Unless you have some true chance of entering the ring after a rousing performance of Pagliacci the possibility remains a mere pipe-dream (and possibly a starting point on the next visit to your therapist). Anywho, if anyone is reading this, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Steven Wright

I feel like a kid again. Well, not exactly. But when I was a kid, my favorite comedians were Bob Newhart, Jonathan Winters and Steven Wright. Though they have had some acting roles, none of them have done much stand-up in the last 15-20 years. That, however, is about to change for Steven Wright. He is about to have a special on Comedy Central. Though quirky, his old stuff was relatively clean. I hope he has not become like so many other sick and twisted comedians and has instead remained only twisted. To give an idea of what his comedy is like, here are some Steven Wright quotes.

I had on some eyeglasses. I was walking down the street when suddenly the prescription ran out.

My school colors were clear. I'm not naked. I'm with the band.

I went to the general store. They wouldn't let me buy anything specific.

I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.

I have the world's largest collection of seashells. I keep it on all the beaches of the world...perhaps you've seen it...

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

I was Caesarian born...can't tell...except every time I leave a room, I go out through the window.

All those who believe in psychokineses, raise my hand.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

I spilled spot remover on my dog. Now he's gone.

I have a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car.

I was sad because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet. So I said, "You got any shoes you're not using?"

It's a small world...but I wouldn't want to paint it.

I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.

You can't have everything. Where would you put it?

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wear my liver on my pant leg.

Yesterday I told a chicken to cross the road. It said, "What for?"

I kept a diary as a baby. I was reading it the other day. It said, DAY ONE: Still tired from the move. DAY TWO: Everybody talks to me like I'm an idiot. When I was two I was really anxious because my age had doubled in one year. I thought, if this keeps up by the time I'm six I'll be ninety.

I wrote a few children's books...not on purpose.

I wrote a song, but I can't read music so I don't know what it is.Every once in a while I'll be listening to the radio and wonder if I wrote that.

I saw a bank that said, "24 Hour Banking." I don't have that much time.

I installed a skylight in my apartment. The people who live above me are pretty mad.

I had to stop driving my car for a while. The tires got dizzy.

I hate when my foot falls asleep because that usually means it's going to be up all night.

Friday, October 13, 2006

October 15, 2006

Highland Church of Christ
October 15, 2006

screen- Forever

1st ~ Baptism of Jake Reese son of Jeff & Kelly Reese

1st ~ Blessing of Randy Wayne Tiner
son of Terry and Randa Tiner

2nd ~ Baptism of Haley & Katie Howdeshell daughters of Allen & Beckie Howdeshell

2nd ~ Blessing of Andrew Christopher Gist & Ann Marie Isabella Gist
daughter and son of Steven & Wendy Gist

Call to Worship ~ Mike Cope
162- All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
screen- Great in Power
screen - How Great is Our God
76- How Great Thou Art (ch vs1 ch)
The Lord’s Prayer

Genesis 32:22-32 ~ Kellie Miller
Message: “Flying, Walking, Running, Limping” ~ Mike
screen - I Will Change Your Name
screen- What the Lord Has Done in Me

Communion ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, 13-4
Kevin & Allison Roberts / Tim & Julie Danley
screen - Draw Me
Tithes & Offerings
“The Christmas Store” (dvd)

Family Concerns ~ Suzetta Nutt (w/ Ruth Jackson, Haiti, sep ppt pres)
Pastoral Prayer ~ Rob Cunningham / Foy Pinson

screen- Blessed Be Your Name

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mid-October Misc.

The Zoe conference was nice. Nashville itself was a mixture, however. The hotel we were in was across the street from a railroad yard. It was the loudest sustained hell I have ever heard while staying at a hotel. Then, they bumped it up a notch when a dog checked in to the room next door. The owners apparently left early for breakfast because Sunday morning the dog started barking between 6:30 and 7:00 and was still going when we left for breakfast at 8:00. In honor of BST I am tempted to say “For the love!” but what I felt for that dog was anything but love.

One thing I noticed at the Zoe conference is that there are almost no clean-shaven worship leaders. Further, the facial hair-style of choice by an incredibly overwhelming margin (approximately 8 in 10 according to a very scientific poll) is the soul patch. I am very tempted to switch to that myself just to give myself a little more credibility. Right now I am sporting the goatee sans mustache. I like to switch it up a lot, though as yet I still have not tried the mutton chops. And though I have several friends who can pull this off, I will never go the route of the mustache only. I have seen it, and it just makes me look like some cheesy disco throw-back. Maybe I’ll just go with the standard-issue worship leader uniform and adopt a permanent soul patch. We’ll see.

The other night we watched a movie. To be honest, the decision to watch it was a rather curious one. Based on the previews and a, frankly, misleading title it was one in which I was totally disinterested. Still, we had some sort of free preview of one of those movie channels and I had heard from fairly respectable sources that there was a lot more to this movie than meets the eye. So, I TIVOed and watched with Kendra, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Though it probably could have had a better ending, it had a fairly real ending in one way. Despite all that, it had great themes of the difficulty that comes along with anger and forgiveness and tough love. Although I am still sorting out why, exactly, I think this is a movie that everyone needs to see. Perhaps it is because matters of faith were strong without being ridiculed. If anyone who happens to read this has seen this movie, I would be interested in knowing your thoughts.

Well, it looks like the kids will be attending Abilene High. The boundary decision has apparently been made and though many will probably cry foul in the coming months or years, it might be more appropriate for our neighborhood to cry “fowl.” First we will be Falcons and the Eagles. There must be some irony in this and the fact that Kendra has a bird phobia and I drive a bird target.

This is a busy weekend in Abilene. ACU has their homecoming festivities. Last year they shared this weekend with the other colleges in town which made for full hotels and packed restaurants. This year may be a little better.

Company is coming this weekend but not staying long. I think the risk of being at Highland while I lead worship is scaring them away. Maybe I shouldn't have said that; you might be scared, too. I'll post the worship order when I get it.
In my years of living among society (and those years may be dwindling more quickly than I originally expected), I have at least witnessed or been a part of a wide variety of neighbor issues. There have been (and still are) the barking dogs, there have been wild parties, loud cars, and more. Currently, we live in a great little neighborhood. With one glaring exception, we feel that our kids are safe among any of our neighbors. We feel blessed that they are able to walk or ride their bikes to school and enjoy things like sports and church activities with kids from the same school. One problem, however, exists in a way that is getting worse instead of better and I am realizing that I am at a loss as to how I can help things get better.

We live relatively near someone who is either mentally ill or one of the meanest people I have ever personally met. Frankly, I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt and attribute their behavior to mental illness rather than assume they are just plain nasty. Whatever the reason for this behavior, it is manifested in screaming fits at both children and adults in public or in private, both within this person’s family and without. Except for Michal Kate, every person in my family has been the target of fits of screaming rage- at times laced with profanity.

By nature I can be a bit of a hot head and I have to say, it has been an incredible challenge not to respond in kind. This is especially a temptation after any efforts to discuss things rationally are met either with more screaming or obstinance. I have tried to consider how Christ might respond and I think he would react with gentle conversation, but then again, He could work through illness pretty well to get to the point where conversation was possible. I can’t do that. So what am I left with? Is avoidance my only option? What about the times when this person actually shows up at our door to attack us? I must admit that they have left little room for doubt as to their instability and it is not a stretch to conclude that my family is not safe around them. Therefore, should I call the police when they show up? Is merely trying to steer clear an appropriate response when there are children in this person’s family who are also being harmed by their exposure to such behavior? Don’t tell me just to pray for this person, because we have been- literally for years. And yet, attacks and abuse persist. What, then, is the solution? I am beginning to wonder if one exists. We have tried to use this as a teaching opportunity with the kids. We have told them it is important to love people even when (perhaps especially) when they are being very unlovable or even hateful. We have prayed for this family. We have rebuked our children when they actually verbalize some of the things we are probably all thinking. Beyond that, I am resistant to engage in much of an outreach effort when I am not confident enough of this person’s psyche to trust in our safety. Basically I am at a loss and just getting more and more frustrated.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

You Can Call Me Al

I suppose I owe an apology to our small group. Oh, I suppose I didn’t do anything especially offensive-at least not that I was aware of- but in retrospect I may have recently been a real downer as I revealed some of the kinds of thoughts that knock around uninvited inside my head.

For instance, can I as a Christian with an awareness of the world in which I live, experience joy in anything other than salvation? If I do happen to experience joy must I then feel guilty because of this awareness?

On one hand, one might suggest that it is perfectly natural to find joy in one’s family. Without question, I must admit that I do take joy in my family. I am married to a beautiful, poised, smart and gracious (thankfully) girl who has given me the three greatest kids that walk this earth. But, is it okay for me to take joy in my circumstances when in the back of my head there is the knowledge that there are families existing in continuous tragedy on the other side of the world, the other side of town, indeed- the other side of the fence? Can I close my mind to the fact that children are being neglected or abused at the hands of those who are charged with their parentage and/or care?

What about beauty in art and nature? Is it at all possible for me to appreciate something- even something created by God- when there are people living in oppression that will never see beyond their cell walls or perhaps beyond the area in which they are forced in to servitude? Am I elevating myself to thank God for such things when others are not getting the opportunity to see them?

Don’t get me wrong. I know God is the creator of all good things and that in this we are to give Him praise and thanksgiving. But having been around so many who have taken guilt to a high level of perfection, it is hard not to let thoughts like this creep in.
I am not sure what the answer to all of this is. At times I feel a lot like Al Del Vecchio of Happy Days fame as he would occasionally get that far-off look and sing: “What’s it all about?” I wonder the same, but then in rare moments of clarity I decide that God wants us to appreciate good things but still work in this fallen world to help His kingdom break in. Can we appreciate good things? Sure, but not to the degree that we neglect others or opportunities to serve in order to partake of those good things. That is a lesson that is lost on most of us and when I find myself falling into the same trap I again think of good ol’ Al Del Vecchio and nod knowingly and simply say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah….”

And so, Father, in a very strange way it almost seems like Satan himself is trying to form our prayers when it seems natural and reasonable to pray for balance.



Balance?? When held next to your majesty, anything even resembling equilibrium is folly. All of this world’s problems, the combined total of all experiences from annoying to atrocious of all people since the beginning of time still do not measure up to your power. So even as we struggle with our awareness of this fallen world, help us recognize that our role is not, in fact, to find balance but to seek fullness, to become complete, to be made whole, to sacrifice our entire selves- our entire lives. Regardless of whatever joy or whatever sorrow or guilt we feel, Father, help us to be wholly, completely, entirely- without fraction or distraction devoted to being Christ-like and being His instruments to a fallen world until the not yet is the now, the someday is today, the kingdom is come. To that end- Lord come quickly.

Lord, come quickly.

Thank you…



Uh-oh. I guess I apologize to the rest of y'all now, too.